SEATTLE—June 17, 2016—The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in partnership with the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA), named Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) the recipient of the 2016 HUD Secretary’s Award for Healthy Homes in the Cross Cutting Coordination program category. SHA’s Breathe Easy Program at Yesler has been judged outstanding by the independent reviewers at the NEHA and by HUD.
“Through collaboration and evidence-based policy, these organizations are creating sustainable environments where families are healthy and thriving” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “I applaud the winners for their commitment to sparking innovative development in their communities, and I look forward to our continued work together in making American city’s places of big dreams and possibilities.”
SHA and its Breathe Easy partners have collaborated to provide quality, safe, healthy homes for all, regardless of their income or background. In 2015, SHA, Neighborcare Health, American Lung Association, and King County Hazardous Waste Management Program launched the Yesler Breathe Easy Program in newly constructed homes for low-income families as part of the Yesler redevelopment. The program also includes one-on-one visits from a trained community health worker.
The program at Yesler stems from practices implemented beginning in 2005 at SHA’s redevelopment of the High Point neighborhood in West Seattle, where an independent study showed dramatic improvement in residents’ health. Within the first year of living in the Breathe Easy homes at High Point, children with asthma experienced a 65 percent increase in symptom-free days.
At Yesler, two new affordable multi-family residential buildings, Raven Terrace and Kebero Court, incorporate design features that protect families from dust, toxins, and other pollutants that can result in increased hospital visits and missed school and work days.
To date, 201 new Breathe Easy apartments have been built at Yesler with features to improve a household’s indoor air quality and reduce symptoms related to asthma and other respiratory illnesses. The homes include:
• Individual unit energy recovery ventilators with air filtering and tempered fresh air supply and heat recovery to improve indoor air quality.
• A variety of non-carpeted flooring options in living areas and bedrooms, recycled content vinyl flooring in bathrooms and kitchens and low-pile carpeting on stairs and in hallways to reduce allergens.
• Low or no off-gas trim and millwork to reduce urea formaldehyde bonding agents.
• Low or no off-gas or volatile organic compound (VOC) cabinet construction and paint.
• No carpets in stairs or hallways.
• A strict non-smoking policy in the building and shared exterior common spaces and entrances.
SHA expects to build a total of 851 new Breathe Easy affordable apartments at Yesler.
About Seattle Housing Authority
The mission of the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) is to enhance the Seattle community by creating and sustaining decent, safe and affordable living environments that foster stability and self-sufficiency for people with low incomes. SHA provides long-term, low-income rental housing and rental assistance to more than 30,000 people in the City of Seattle. SHA owns and operates approximately 8,000 units at nearly 400 sites throughout the city. SHA also handles more than 10,000 Housing Choice Vouchers, enabling low-income residents to receive rental assistance throughout the Seattle housing market. Approximately 13,000 SHA residents are elderly or disabled and about 9,500 are children. SHA, a public corporation established in 1939, is governed by a seven-member Board of Commissioners, two of whom are SHA residents. Commissioners are appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council.